Lacey McKinney in Domestic Brutes at Pelham Art Center

In Dialogue with Lacey McKinney

Lacey McKinney at McColl Center for Art + Innovation, 2019,.Courtesy Chris Edwards Photography

Lacey McKinney who resides in Upstate New York, is drawn to the alchemy of processes like painting and alternative photography. For the last several years, McKinney has worked within the framework of painting, using figuration to reference embodiment. Usually splitting her time between working in the studio and teaching, this year she feels lucky enough to embark on a one-year teaching sabbatical, which has given her extra time for experimentation with other media such as using cyanotype process to make photograms that incorporate into collage and mixed media works. The artist shares some insights on her body of work in Domestic Brutes, the all women group show at the Pelham Art Center which engages the visitor with diverse approaches of what feminism means in American society today.

AS: How do you see your work in context of Domestic Brutes feminist perspective?

LM: I am thrilled to be part of this show alongside other artists investigating parallel issues in diverse ways. I think there are many misunderstandings regarding the idea of feminism and images are powerful vehicles to facilitate curiosity that leads to greater understanding and positive social change. That being said, I think as a united collective, we can use our practices to critique cultural defects like sexism and racism and to also celebrate one another.

Obscenely Loved 4, 2018, Oil and Acrylic on Yupo

AS: Tell me about the work in this show – its genesis and process.

LM: My work in this show is part of a series called Obscenely Loved. The title is inspired by Author Zadie Smith and how she describes the intertwining of disgust and desire. It relates to the complicated position of women in society, specifically the sense of shame engendered along with the value placed on traditional gender expectations of physical attractiveness. For me, the act of fragmenting and re-arranging faces serves as an exercise in dismantling problematic social structures.

Obscenely Loved 3, 2018, Oil and Acrylic on Polyester Film

AS: How does the work in this show relate to your other work?

LM: One obvious common thread running through all of my work up until recently is the use of faces as a subject. I was always captivated by this place where we see our humanity reside as if it somehow transcends the rest of our body. Right now, I am looking more at body language, other corporal phenomena, and social ordering by stepping back a bit in order to zoom out and use other subjects that channel the flesh.

Obscenely Loved 2, 2018, Oil and Acrylic on Polyester Film

AS: How do you hope viewers connect with your work in this show?

LM: When I am in the studio, I am searching for a sense of discord and jarring movement, so I embrace discomfort as a useful feeling when engaging with art. I hope after viewing the show as a whole, the audience can leave with questions and an inclination to learn more. As a kid, I wanted to be an artist but rarely saw examples of successful artists who identified as women. We all need to see ourselves reflected somewhere and valued, and since we are all different that calls for a greater variety of options in the media we consume. I think this show helps to do that and I hope viewers do as well.

Domestic Brutes at the Pelham Art Center – Opening receptions: September 12th (in gallery with applicable rules); September 17th (virtual).

Artists: Tirtzah Bassel, Aisha Tandiwe Bell, Ashley Norwood Cooper, Maria de Los Angeles, Nancy Elsamanoudi, Fay Ku, Sharon Madanes, Lacey McKinney, Joiri Minaya, Rose Nestler, Simonette Quamina, Diana Schmertz, Alisa Sikelianos-Carter, Manju Shandler, Melissa Stern; Curated by Christina Massey and Etty Yaniv

Thanks to Audrey Putman for helping with the interview.

Etty Yaniv works on her art, art writing and curatorial projects in Brooklyn. She founded Art Spiel as a platform for highlighting the work of contemporary artists, including art reviews, studio visits, interviews with artists, curators, and gallerists. For more details contact by Email: